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Robotics Technology

The World's Biggest Undersea Robot 81

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the getting-lots-of-work-lately dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "According to redOrbit.com, companies installing subsea cables for telecommunications companies and pipelines for the oil industry now have a new tool, the UT-1 Ultra Trencher which is the world's biggest subsea robot. This beauty weighs 60 tons (out of the water) and has a length of 7.8 meters, a width of 7.8 meters and a height of 5.6 meters. In fact, it has the dimensions of a small house but is more expensive, carrying a price tag of about £10 million. It can move at a speed of 2 to 3 knots under the sea. And it can trench pipelines with a 1-meter diameter in deep waters of up to 1,500 meters."
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The World's Biggest Undersea Robot

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  • by imamac (1083405) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:35PM (#22825968)
    ...it does NOT run Linux.
  • Not A Robot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:42PM (#22826024)
    Robots have at least some degree of autonomy. This is a bad-ass RC vehicle.

    Our future overlords are increasingly unimpressed with us taking their name in vain.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Open UT-1 Ultra Trencher project announced that it has been accepted to Google's Summer of Code. Prospective students must have access to their own UT-1 to be considered.
  • Pics (Score:5, Informative)

    by bar-agent (698856) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:47PM (#22826056)
    There's a picture on ZDNET's page. [zdnet.com]
  • A picture (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Ancients (626689) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:47PM (#22826058) Homepage

    Since the linked article is a bit light on them:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=870

    Spec sheet here [ctcmarine.com] (PDF 917KB)

    • by njh (24312)
      The four pump option delivers less output than the three pump option? Must be a typo I guess.
      • by Barryke (772876)
        Difference is the 3 pumps configuration being set to 1 Bar more pressure.
        • by njh (24312)
          I don't understand:

          Water Pumps
            4800m3/hr@7bar (4 pumps)
            6000m3/hr@8bar (3 pumps)

          4800 < 6000, 7 < 8, 4 > 3
  • by toejam13 (958243) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:55PM (#22826110)
    There are a huge number of undersea cables and pipes that currently reside on the surface of the ocean floor. How will they be affected by this device?

    Furthermore, even if the "water knife" does not damage existing infrastructure, it will still be there when you go to run your new cable. Unless you manage to thread your cable under it somehow, there will be points where it will be exposed above the soil where it junctions with existing cable. Perhaps that's an acceptable issue today, but in a century when we have millions of miles of fiber-optics undersea, it may not.
    • Perhaps that's an acceptable issue today, but in a century when we have millions of miles of fiber-optics undersea, it may not.

      Hopefully by then we'll have better robotics (or better manned equipment) able to deal with that problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      wow there might be an issue 100 years in the future, better abandon the project.
    • Maybe it has a bumper sticker that says "We Stop For No One".
    • by mrbluze (1034940) on Friday March 21, 2008 @10:36PM (#22826326) Journal

      There are a huge number of undersea cables and pipes that currently reside on the surface of the ocean floor. How will they be affected by this device?
      Remember to Dial Before You Dig, and after you dig, dial again to make sure you severed the cable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by plover (150551) *

        Remember to Dial Before You Dig, and after you dig, dial again to make sure you severed the cable.

        Wow, I didn't know my phone installer posted on slashdot! Hi there, remember me? Green house, picket fence, you cut my cable the DAY OF THE SOPRANOS FINAL EPISODE!!! AAAAUUUGGGHH!!!

    • by iamnafets (828439)
      And... in a century we'll have new generations of these "water knives" that are more like "water scalpels". We don't seem to have too many problems above ground, maybe some analog of the "don't dig here" signs implemented through ultrasonic beacons or something. If the cable emitted a faint signal then it'd be fairly easy for future machines to stop when it "senses" the presence and either route around it or wait for an operator.
    • by argent (18001)
      In a century the other cables will already have been buried by our cthonic robotic overlords.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2008 @10:01PM (#22826134)

    it has the dimensions of a small house but is more expensive, carrying a price tag of about £10 million
    Hmmm... judging by the UK housing market, it'll probably soon be cheaper to live in an undersea cable robot worth £10 million... sub-prime mortgages not withstanding...
  • Out of water? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MasterC (70492) <cmlburnett@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday March 21, 2008 @10:14PM (#22826212) Homepage

    This beauty weighs 60 tons (out of the water)
    Weight is the affect of gravity on a mass so it still weighs 60 tons but the water provides buoyancy so if you put it on a scale it won't read 60 tons. Granted the gravity will be different 1500 meters down but that wasn't the implication of "out of water".
    • by timmarhy (659436)
      at 1500m below the pressure on it will be crushing, it would be under 100's of tons of pressure.
      • It will be under more pressure than that. 1500MSW = ~150 ATM x 14.2 PSI/ATM = 2130PSI. This means that the device will operate at a pressure equivalent to the inside of an almost full LP steel* scuba tank. * Not all tanks are created equally. Generally speaking, LP Steel tanks fill to 2400 PSI, Aluminum to 3000, HP steel 4500, and some nifty carbon fiber tanks from the deep cave project go to 6000 psi. -ellie
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      1) It's spelled "effect". Why can't people figure this out?
      2) That's what weight means... The mass is the same. If there's another force in play, the weight will change. It's not hard to understand, why do you have it wrong? Why do you think orbit is called "weightless"?
  • ... for mechaGodzilla.
  • The Abyss? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Friday March 21, 2008 @10:27PM (#22826272) Homepage
    Is it just me or does that look like it came right out of the movie The Abyss? It looks like a yellow, miniature version of their habitat. I'm sure the MPAA is working on their patent lawsuit.
    • I don't know what it costs to hire this thing, but don't count on the MPAA using it anytime soon.

      Only the really big, evil, greedy types can afford this sort of thing - like oil companies and the telcos... I am sure they wouldn't spend money on expensive stuff like this just to deliver the goods people want, nah, I am sure they are more into the environmental aspects of digging up the ocean floor for fun and profit.

  • Remember about a month or so ago, all those undersea cables cut. Seemed far too coincidental for so many to be cut at one. Now someone unveils a machine to bury them to keep them protected! A motive me thinks, creating demand for their product?


    I'm taking my gang over there in my VW microbus right now to unmask the cable cutting ghost as old man Jones, the creepy submarine maker.
  • by DTemp (1086779) on Friday March 21, 2008 @11:10PM (#22826514)
    Wife: Aww, you're gonna be out a couple days working again?

    You: Yep, I'll be out laying pipe.
  • This story is worthless
    • by dwater (72834)

      This story is worthless
      Yeah, what *is* with that?

      ...and, no, that CG image isn't a photo.
  • Well, I've been waiting for it and haven't seen it yet. So I'm just gonna get it out of the way and be done with it.... I for one welcome our Underseas Robotic Overlords. Now, back to our topic! By the way, thanks to the fellow/gal who posted the link to the picture!
  • Good, now send it to Europa where it can do some history making work.
  • by TFer_Atvar (857303) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @01:39AM (#22827102) Homepage
    Current undersea trenching is done using plows pulled by ships. I highly doubt that even this large robot is going to be able to match the power of a 60,000 ton ship pulling a plow. And considering the need to dig fairly deep below the seabed in order to protect from wayward anchors and fishing nets, I have to question the usefulness of this robot. It might be useful for smaller, brown-water cables where you need the protection but can't afford to hire a ship to plow the trench, but the big ocean-spanning cables probably won't use this robot.
    • I hate to answer my own question, but could it have to do with the physics of the situation? I'm no physicist, and I have no idea how to calculate the answer, but is it possible that this robot could have more straight-ahead force than a ship forced to tow a plow at an angle?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The trencher doesn't use a plow, no. It uses a pair of jet-cutters. A jet-cutter is a large pump connected to a very small nozzle that blasts the sea floor away with high pressure water. One jet-cutter on either side of the pipe or cable and the blast of water excavates the earth in between. Subsea cables are not usually buried more than a meter deep. The reason to bury them is to keep marine life and anchors off of them. Occasionally a cable may be set deeper at a crossing point or when coming into land ne
    • by nut (19435)
      Umm, yeah right. Somebody spent 10 million pounds building huge fsck-off undersea robot, but they didn't bother to do any research into whether it would work, or if there was a market for it...

      I think it's likely to be useful enough to pay for itself. Nobody puts up that kind of money without some fairly convincing evidence it will make a profit.
    • Yup, even the robot home base ship will be several orders of magnitude more powerful than this little robot.
    • I have to question the usefulness of this robot.

      Even though you don't have any actual experience in the field. That folks with experience in the field are willing to spend 10 million pounds on the machine, plus more for a dedicated (and new build) support vessel should tell you something.

      It might be useful for smaller, brown-water cables where you need the protection but can't afford to hire a ship to plow the trench, but the big ocean-spanning cables probably won't use this robot.

      With yo

  • Deep, dark, and wet. is itt a thruster or an auger, a tapper or a slapper?

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